Good morning, Bulletin readers. In today’s briefing: Numbers show that 2018 was the most productive year in memory for gun safety measures at the state level. And a recommendation by the panel studying the Parkland shooting shows that the fight over the direction of gun laws is far from over.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
State legislatures passed 69 gun violence prevention laws this year, versus nine that relaxed restrictions. The numbers come from an annual report by the gun reform group Giffords, an advance copy of which was provided to The New York Times. “Red flag” laws and curbs on bump stocks were the most popular, as you might imagine, but the surge in new safety measures includes many bills that address everyday shootings: States passed 11 laws aimed at reducing gun access for domestic abusers, and nine addressing urban gun violence.
NEW from The Trace and Mother Jones: Maria Butina admitted to engaging in a conspiracy against the United States The alleged Russian spy said in federal court on December 13 that she acted under the direction of a Russian official, identified as Alexander Torshin, a Kremlin-linked banker and National Rifle Association life member. Butina has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. Refresher: Butina made no secret of her friendship with NRA executives, which she documented on her social media channels.
Today is the sixth anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting. To honor the lives of the 20 children and six adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 12, 2012, groups gathered for a vigil last week on Capitol Hill. The ceremony drew family members of victims from shootings across the country, including the Charleston church massacre. More than 90 local vigils are planned for this weekend in cities across the country.
After police thwarted a school shooting in Indiana, the teen gunman died by suicide. After receiving a tip that a 14-year-old boy was planning to shoot up a middle school, local law enforcement intervened, exchanging gunfire with him before he killed himself on December 13. No other students were injured in the shooting.
The panel investigating the Parkland shooting is recommending arming teachers. The group voted 13-to-1 on December 12 in favor of training teachers be allowed to carry concealed weapons, saying armed guards or police officers aren’t sufficient for preventing another massacre. The father of a 14-year-old who died in the February attack cast the lone vote against the motion, saying that arming teachers would “create a host of problems.” Related: The incoming Republican governor of Florida staffed a new public safety panel with Parkland parents and survivors. But only one of them supports stricter gun laws.
The Justice Department made a rare prosecution for lying on a gun background check application. A 32-year-old New York resident was given time served after an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives found that he knowingly made a false statement to a licensed dealer when purchasing a gun. The ATF hasn’t usually gone after such offenders. As The Trace has reported, as many as 160,000 people are denied a gun purchase each year because they failed a check, but few are punished for their crime. Earlier this year, the Justice Department said it planned to pursue more “lie-and-try” cases.
Federal law enforcement agencies spent at least $38 million on guns in the past decade, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office. The 20 agencies reviewed by the GAO also spent at least $325 million on ammunition and $1.14 billion on tactical equipment, adding up to $1.5 billion in total between 2010 and 2017. The report also found discrepancies between reported data and publicly available data for some agencies.
Colorado’s outgoing attorney general is establishing a mass tragedy victims fund. Before leaving office, the Republican attorney general of Colorado — a state that’s suffered several major mass shootings — set aside $1 million from consumer fraud settlements to start a fund for victims and survivors of terrorist attacks and gun rampages.
A man shot a sleeping baby while taking a selfie with his gun. Police in Oklahoma say that when the man’s gun discharged, the bullet went through the wall and into the next-door apartment, hitting an infant. The child is expected to survive. No arrests have been made.
A transgender woman was fatally shot by a pastor in Detroit. Prosecutors say they will present evidence that 36-year-old Kelly Stough’s gender identity was a motivating factor in her killing. So far this year, there have been at least 24 transgender people killed nationwide, 18 of whom were killed with a gun. Of the transgender victims who were shot, almost all were people of color.
ONE LAST THING
A fund named for an ER doctor who was fatally shot by her ex-fiancé has raised $40,000 to support gun violence research. After Dr. Tamera O’Neal was killed along with two others at her workplace last month in Chicago, a fundraiser was set up to help her family pay for funeral costs. Within 21 hours, the campaign was fully funded. Organizers decided to put the excess funds toward the Dr. Tamara O’Neal Memorial Research Fund, which will support researching gun violence in relation to intimate partner violence and women of color. “It’s important to do research and to honor a fallen sister, since we’re not going to get funding from the federal government anytime soon,” one of the researchers behind the fund said.